I am a LinkedIn advocate and evangelist. Why? Because every day I witness what it can do to help people just like you achieve success and accomplish business related goals.
Your LinkedIn profile is one of the most effective online networking tools available. When used to its full potential, it will connect you to more professional business people than any other social platform. When we talk about full potential in networking, we are, of course, talking about maximum exposure. The name of the game is getting found by, and finding, your target audience.
Next to having a fully optimized profile, being a member of the right groups might be the most important exercise you carry out on LinkedIn. LinkedIn Groups are not only a means to locate other professionals in your industry, or areas of interest, but they are also an effective way of finding connections that may provide new opportunities within your target audience.
You can join up to 50 groups according to the current guidelines. That may seem like a lot but with over 2.1 million groups on LinkedIn how do you possibly find those that are best for you?
What are the best LinkedIn groups and how do you find them?
The process is not as difficult as it may seem. In fact, it can be fairly simple, thanks to the power of LinkedIn’s robust search functionality. Also, as you optimize your profile and activity LinkedIn will also list group suggestions for you based on the information you’ve provided in your profile.
In fact, now would be a good time to review your profile and update it to reflect your current goals, interests, etc. Once done, you’re ready to sift through the 2 million plus groups to find the best LinkedIn groups for you, following these 5 simple steps:
1. Set Your Goals
Sounds rather obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of what your end game is in a social medium. The best groups for you to join are the ones that will help you achieve whatever goals you set, so begin by deciding what you’re hoping to accomplish.
Are you hoping to gather information about an industry? Do you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field? Do you want to generate new opportunities, or leads, in a specific vertical category? Perhaps you are seeking new strategic alliances. Once you’ve nailed down your objectives, you can then start your search for groups that will help you achieve those objectives.
2. Start with Your Peers
Chances are, people you follow are active members in groups that would interest you. Look at the profiles of those you admire in your industry and check their group memberships. You may not only find groups that meet your goals, you can also make valuable contacts with those people you look up to in your industry.
Shared interests are another great way to expand your network, so make room in your group search for those with a more social-oriented focus.
And don’t be afraid to reach out to your network and ask them what they think about the groups they belong to. This not only can help to continue building relationships with your network, but also help you to understand and learn about groups that may be right for you to join.
As a general rule of thumb I usually breakdown my group memberships following a 60/40 rule. Sixty percent of the groups I join are for lead generation and marketing purposes. The remaining forty percent are groups related to my industry and topics of interest.
3. Search with Filters
When using LinkedIn’s group search directory, your results will vary according to the filter settings you select. I recommend you be as specific as possible when entering your search terms to narrow down your results. And don’t forget to check out our recent article on how to best use the LinkedIn search features.
For example you can search your 3rd connections, which are those people that you cannot connect with directly. By visiting their profile you can see what groups they belong to and see if that group meets your goals. By joining, you can accomplish two things: 1. Join a group that fits with your plans and 2. Once you are a group member you can communicate with those 3rd connections through the group. That is a win-win.
4. Sort through the Results
Once you’ve got a working list of groups that meet your criteria, check them out by looking over their descriptions. Most “Open” groups will have an About link that will provide an outline of what that group is all about. Get an idea of what the group’s purpose and format is. Most have a welcome page and encourage new members to make an introductory post. From here, the only way to know which groups will work for you is by spending time in them.
It is always best to listen before participating to get a feel for the tone of the group. After all, there is a reason why we have two ears and only one mouth…perhaps we should listen twice as much as we speak. J Get a feel of the group, the discussions and its members. Give the other members a chance to feel you out as well. The groups that are welcoming, where the discussions remain on point, and where useful content is shared regularly are the keepers. Stick with them and…
5. Stay Engaged
There’s a school of thought that recommends you join as many groups as possible. I would advise against getting into more groups than you can keep active in on a meaningful level. You may want to sit back a while before offering your own contributions, but you do want to stay involved as regularly as possible, so keep your memberships to a manageable number.
And remember, being engaged does not just mean posting new content. It can also be Liking, Commenting and Sharing posts by other group members.
Finally, there’s one more group that suits your goals perfectly – the one you create. After you’ve developed a sense of what you value in a LinkedIn group, and which members you most enjoy sharing time with, you’ll have all the ingredients necessary to start your own.
LinkedIn groups are nothing more than virtual meeting rooms where people with similar interests can meet, hold conversations and share information around those topics of mutual interest.
Until next time. Look for me in the groups you join and don’t forget to say hello.
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